Monday, April 2, 2018

The Social Media Infused Classroom: Mediated Messages 2.0

I have written a few times about my experiences as a member of the Certified Google Innovator #SWE17 cohort and the ongoing learning as part of #GoogleEI . The focus of my application to the Innovator Academy (and the ongoing thread of my work with students and my colleagues) is the development of media literacy. The importance of media literacy can not be understated. Nor can the value of social media as a teaching, learning, and publishing tool.

In the latest iteration of my Innovator project, Mediated Messages, I have added a section on lesson ideas and launched a Facebook group for building a collaborative community dedicated to expanding our capacities for media literacy instruction. Social media is a multi-faceted education tool; it can be used for personalizing instruction, as a research resource, to foster global engagement, and to provide authentic digital citizenship practice. Here are examples of it being used or practiced in each of these contexts.

For Personalizing
In this previous blog post I wrote about my collaboration with an English teacher creating The Selfie Project. Ultimately, as a corollary to their study of Transcendentalism, the students used the makerspace to create 3D representations of self (we called it, "Yourself, in tangible relief"). The project started with an examination of all of the ways a student's identity can be explored, including through playlists, social media, school pictures, the contents of their bedrooms, and their school data. The lesson steps are here and this is a gallery of pictures of the students and their work

For Research
Understanding "Journalistic Truth" and the impact of digital media on our sources of information is essential to student development of savvy research skills. The journalistic truth slides outline a two-period lesson I co-delivered with an English teacher to the students in the non-fiction writing class.

Finding experts and research or non-profit foundations on social media is another excellent way for students to collect valuable insight and potential interview subjects to inform their inquiry.

For Global Engagement
An educator with a global PLN has the resources to connect students with adults and other students around the world for a sharing of culture and point-of-view. Exposure and interaction builds empathy and collaboration. My favorite experience using social media as a teaching tool happened when I was a social studies teacher working with a group of American Studies students. We were studying the cold war and I happened to have a Tweep who is an educator living in eastern Germany. She joined my class for a twitter chat about life in eastern Germany behind the wall and after the wall came down. We were scheduled to chat for 30 minutes and ended up chatting for the entirety of a 70 minute block period. During that time a few of her teacher colleagues joined the conversation as did her daughter who was a student at university. Now my students had both adults and a peer with whom to share perspectives. Several of my students and Ines' daughter began following each other on Instagram, too. The conversation began as a discussion of cold war life and evolved into a discussion of how do we each learn about the other. It was a rich exchange that far exceeded my expectations when Ines and I were planning it!

Teachers at my school haven't yet warmed to Twitter but they are enjoying Flipgrid in closed, classroom-based exercises. Expanding their grids to include participation outside of our school will be a first step building PLNs.

As anyone in the Google Innovator program knows, my cohort, my coach, and my mentor are unparalleled in their support of my work and the counsel they provide. And it's all happening via social media and Google Hangouts.

For Digital Citizenship Practice
I have an on-going collaboration with the teacher of our school's Digital Literacy course. Together we have launched a class Twitter account that the students use to post reflections on lessons and units and provide insights and guidance about good habits of online conduct. To launch this account we had students use Canva to design channel art. We loaded each of their submissions into a Google Form which we pushed to them in Classroom. Students then voted for their favorite design and that was uploaded to Twitter. Then I taught a brief lesson on Hashtags & the Anatomy of a Tweet. The conclusion of the lesson was each student drafting what the first class tweet should be. Again, we shared the submissions with the class and they chose which would be used as our introduction to the Twitterverse.

Social Media Think Tank for your students is another way to engage them with social media in the context of your course material; here is an elevator pitch you can use with your students.

And that's not all!
My interest in educational use of social media preceded my acceptance into the Innovator Program and new opportunities to continue my learning in this realm have emerged because of the connections I made there. Here are some of the other irons I have in the fire at the moment:

At ISTE18 I will be co-presenting on using social media in the college search and application processes. From building a brand to researching schools to writing the college essay, there are so many ways students can powerfully use social media.

Public libraries in my area are interested in hosting seminars about media savvy and I have a couple happening this month.

My book is about to be released! I co-authored News Literacy: the keys to combating fake news with my friend and fellow librarian, Michelle Luhtala. It will hit the stands in May 2018! I am very excited about the companion video workshops that are being released in conjunction with the book. Those lessons include outreach into social media communities so that the learning is ongoing.

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